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Returning to work after maternity leave is often met with feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety, guilt, and for many women, probably some feelings of excitement too.
Depending on how much maternity leave you received, you may be chomping at the bit to get back into work, and to be around other adults and have grown up conversations! And hey, if you fall in that bucket of being totally stoked about going back to work after baby, then that’s AWESOME!
Admittedly though, I did not fall in that bucket at all. I was absolutely dreading going back to work after maternity leave . I had a C-Section, which for me meant that I received 3 months of maternity leave. I remember that final month as I was approaching the end of maternity leave, each passing week I would get more and more depressed. I had a mental countdown constantly ticking in my head.
Ugh only 3 more weeks left…OMG I can’t believe I have to go back to work in 2 weeks…This is my LAST week home with my baby! *Cue the waterworks.
It’s so unfair that for several weeks of your maternity leave you’re recovering from childbirth, figuring out a good schedule and adjusting to this new mom role, then when you finally get a good grasp of this whole “being a mom” thing…it’s time to go back to work!
For those of you out there that are struggling with this transition of going back to work after baby, just know you are not alone. Even the moms that are excited to go back to work have sad feelings about it too. We all miss our babies when we’re apart.
It’s not uncommon to suffer from postpartum depression after returning to work.
Here are some tips that helped me cope with my return to work after maternity leave. I hope these things help you as much as they helped me!
How To Deal With Going Back To Work After Baby
1. Be Confident In Your Childcare Arrangemet
First and foremost…you need to make sure you feel comfortable and confident in who will be caring for your child when you’re at work. Whether that be a family member, a friend, or a daycare provider. This is an absolute must when preparing to go back to work after maternity leave.
If you have a family member or friend that is willing to watch your child, then that’s great. However, be sure that you truly feel comfortable with that arrangement. Don’t agree to it simply because you feel “guilty” saying no to an offer.
If you’ll be utilizing a daycare provider, just be sure you select one that will be a good fit for your and your child. Visit several providers for interviews, so you can select the best one. Start looking into them while you’re still pregnant if you can because many daycare facilities fill up quick.
Check out this article on 20 Important Questions To Ask When Picking A Daycare. This article includes a Free Printable that you should take to each visit to ensure you ask all of the right questions, and jot down the answers for a review and comparison once you’ve completed all of your visits.
2. Check Out Some Books On Going Back To Work After Baby
There are so many resources out there to help women that are struggling with the idea of returning to work after having a baby.
Prepare yourself with some great books, and start reading them your last month or so as your reach the end of maternity leave. It’ll help to get you in the right headspace for that day. It may even help you to start feeling GOOD about your return to work!
Check out these two from Amazon:
3. Have an awesome outfit lined up for your first day back to work!
You’ve probably spent the last few months living in spit up covered sweats and rocking that messy mom bun on top of your head. Dust off your cute shoes, and get yourself some fresh new outfits! Give yourself something to look forward to about going back to work. It’ll feel so nice to be dressed up again. Looking like a real life WOMAN!
4. Create an email account for your Child
This is a really cool idea even if your child wasn’t going to daycare!
When my daughter was born, I made her an email account. I write her little notes from time to time, send her funny videos or pictures of her, write her loving messages on each of her birthdays, and so on. On her 18th birthday, I’ll give her the password. It’s kind of like a digital baby book. And it’s a lot easier to remember to do that then it is to pull out a physical baby book and remember to write things down.
I was really depressed about going back to work after maternity leave and this really helped me. Oftentimes during my lunch break, I’d go sit in my car, and just write her a message letting her know how much I love her, and how I’m missing her since coming back to work. I’d write about the funny or cute thing she did that morning, or what I have planned to do when I get home from work. (Even if it is just snuggling up on the couch together and watching tv.)
It was a good outlet to feel like I was communicating with her, and I think it will be nice for her to see one day. She’ll see why I went back to work, and also just how much love I always had for her, from the very beginning.
So it’s a coping mechanism for you, that at the same time is creating a keepsake for your child.
5. Set Rules and Boundaries For After Work Time
Set boundaries with friends and family about coming over to visit the baby on weeknights. When I first went back to work after maternity leave, I had to drop my daughter off at daycare at 7am, then I didn’t get home from work until around 6pm. Then she went to bed between 7-7:30pm. That’s only 1-1.5 hours a day with my baby! That absolutely broke my heart.
So you know what…I didn’t want people to come visit with her in the evenings after work. That was MY time with MY daughter. I missed her all day long, and I needed that special bonding time with her.
So, with the exception of a couple times, I put my foot down on that. And I utilized that time the best that I could, and I got ALL the cuddles in with my sweet little peanut.
Remember, you’re the boss. Don’t sacrifice time and bonding with your child simply to please others.
6. Plan Fun things On The Weekend
This seems like a no brainer, but I think a lot of times we forget about it, or we don’t really focus on this as much as we should.
This doesn’t mean that you have to plan some extravagant outing or event every weekend. In fact, you shouldn’t do that. It’ll just exhaust you.
The biggest thing is do NOT spend your whole weekend catching up on cleaning and house chores! Leave the dirty laundry in the basket, and the dishes in the sink, and enjoy your baby. Give yourself permission to put that time with your baby first, and house chores second. (or third, or fourth, or fifth…)
Check out this Weekly Chore List to maintain a clean house. Stick to it as best as you can Monday through Friday after the baby goes to bed. That way when the weekend comes you won’t feel like you have a mile long list of things you need to get done.
7. Take A Day Off After Your First Month Back
If you have the ability to do so, take a day off work after you’ve been back for a month or two. Spend the day with your baby and soak up all the baby snuggles!
It’ll be a perfect “recharge” after the difficult transition back to work.
9. Stay On Top Of Your Mental Health
With such a wide range of emotions flowing through you during this transition period of returning to work after baby, it’s bound to take a toll on your mental health. So make sure you’re taking care of yourself and keeping your mental health in check.
Find a way to fit in things that relax you, and make you happy. Maybe on lunch breaks go do some grocery shopping, or stroll through Target. By this time you’re probably missing being able to go to the store without a baby in tow! Take advantage of it! It’s totally okay to ENJOY the benefits of having childcare for several hours a day!
Another thing that helps me with my mental health in general is this Zen as F*ck Book* from Amazon.
It’s a journal that has little mental exercises to help keep you positive, but with a not so “clinical” approach. It’s lightweight and funny and really helps to get your mind back in a positive light after a stressful day. I’ve already bought this for 3 separate friends who were going through some tough times to help them cope. Check it out and see what you think!
10. ENJOY Your days with your baby before returning to work!
Last tip, but certainly not least. Don’t forget to enjoy your maternity leave! It flies by! Soak it all in mama.